Evolution without obsolescence

Safeguarding your installed equipment

Plant owners make significant capital investment in the system hardware, engineering tools and application software that together comprise their initial distributed control system (DCS) installation. Upon commissioning, plant and corporate personnel add to the investment by enhancing control system components, tuning and refining control application code and developing knowledgeable staff who operate and maintain the plant and control system. 

The result of these investments is a highly trained and experienced staff of engineers, technicians and operators, as well as the creation of site-specific control strategies, procedures and graphics that enable the plant to maintain high unit availability and excellent operational performance. ABB’s evolution strategy aims at supporting those customers who wish to protect and enhance their investments in both the control system hardware and their valuable intellectual property. 

Why ABB?

  • Our Evolution approach optimizes control system life cycle costs and extends the life of the existing control system
  • Eliminate unplanned production losses from process upsets and trips due to system interruption
  • Maximize system investments and assets, both physical and intellectual


For more than 35 years, ABB has evolved the Symphony family, ensuring that each new generation enhances its predecessors in accordance with its industry-unique life cycle policy of ‘Evolution without obsolescence.’ All told, this family of systems represents one of the largest installed bases of distributed control systems in the world. The majority of these systems are in operation in the power generation and water sectors.  

With Symphony Plus, ABB has taken the Symphony success story to the next level. Like its predecessors, Symphony Plus is designed to meet the requirements of plant owners in all geographic markets and for all types of power generation and water treatment. It meets the performance objectives of its various users – in maintenance and operations, engineering, IT and management. And it addresses all the key focus areas of the power and water industries – plant productivity, energy efficiency, operation security, plant safety, and cost of ownership.

Symphony Plus includes the latest products and services from the world’s largest automation supplier. The main components include state-of-the-art HMI offerings that suit different customer needs, depending on their requirements and preferences.

Other new functions and technology updates include rack and DIN rail-mounted I/O modules, process controllers, communication modules, and system configuration tools. 

"ABB's evolution strategy aims at supporting those customers who wish to protect and enhance their investements in both the control system hardware and their valuable intellectual property."


ABB’s commitment to ‘Evolution without obsolescence’ provides plant owners with the ability to extend the operating life of their control systems and improve the profitability of their investments through seamless evolution, thus avoiding the costs and risks associated with ‘rip-and-replace’ upgrade methods. ABB’s evolution approach offers plant owners the flexibility to upgrade the DCS in accordance with their business and plant operational needs rather than on component obsolescence. 
ABB’s evolution program supports a stepwise approach in which components or process areas are upgraded individually as required during either normal operations or as part of scheduled maintenance activities, while leaving the rest of the system undisturbed.

These options utilize the system to its full potential. Evolution alleviates the need for large capital investment and the resultant cash flow impact associated with a full-scale ‘rip-and-replace’ approach that requires a major outage and cost-intensive engineering, design, and construction efforts. Perhaps the most significant benefit of ABB’s evolution concept is to mitigate the risks associated with ‘ripand- replace,’ such as poor design quality, resource allocation, plant trips, lost generation, project overruns and commercial/legal issues.

Link to comparison "Evolution advantages versus "Rip-and replace" risks"

A successful evolution program begins with a solid plan driven by the owner’s business goals. Good planning is critical for any incremental, stepwise evolution and can minimize the negative production impact of the actual upgrade process. It can simplify and improve the yearly budgeting process and facilitate better system upgrades and planned plant shutdowns. 
Individual planning is essential. Different industries invariably have different strategies and business issues going forward. At ABB, account managers and technical experts work with system owners individually to address their unique needs. The collaborative relationship results in the best strategies for each individual site. After a comprehensive audit of the existing system, and with an understanding of the business drivers, ABB will:

Submit a 3-5 year plan to be reviewed and revised as necessary. ABB’s incremental approach supports flexibility, and allows for changes to the plan as required over time.

Identify and target which plant areas are at greatest risk for production loss and those that have the greatest potential for increased production. As each phase is identified, ABB will provide value assessments and return-on-investment support for consideration in order to facilitate successful project appropriation requests

Review the long term plan periodically and update as required to reflect changing business needs and new ABB solutions. This approach takes the guess work out of the budgeting process. As part of this planning process, specifi c projects are identified and implemented.

Regardless of whether that investment was 1, 5, 10 or 15 years ago, the installed automation system is a vital and sustainable part of the business and manufacturing strategy and can be enhanced and extended for years to come. ABB’s strategy of ‘Evolution without obsolescence’ provides its customers with a platform to help maintain and enhance the existing automation system. This strategy of seamlessly integrating new technology with the existing system lowers the cost of ownership, increases the value the system provides, and extends the life of the system. 
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